The reflections in Parts I and II have led us to a place of very profound fullness, in which the lines of beauty in creation, the lines of love and intimacy and relationship, all converge together in the single place of the Trinity’s living and life-giving embrace. Yes, for all indeed flows from the inner heart of the intimacy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit since the very beginning, and returns at last into this intimacy. Every single reality in existence is an overflow of the abundant generosity and spontaneously fruitful communion of the Persons of the Trinity. This very communion of the Trinity is the very essence of the divine life, and therefore the foundation of all that exists, since nothing can exist in creation unless it first exists in its super-eminent fullness in God himself. And this fullness, this eternal life of love and intimacy that is the very being of the Trinity, becomes present and incarnate in the visible creation, in human relationships, and in the very bodies of man and woman, and it is perpetually present and at work drawing all back, in a unifying movement of magnetizing Love, into the eternal embrace of the Trinity which is the Origin, Foundation, and Consummation of all things.
It is only from this convergence point, from this throbbing heartbeat at the very core of all of reality, that one can gain the ability to truly see and understand all things as they truly are. It is, as it were, only “Trinitarian lenses” that can illumine our eyes to see the beauty and goodness and truth of creation, and in particular of the human person and of human relationship, and to live every moment of our life in such a way that this beauty is ever more deeply unsealed in our heart and our experience. But indeed such “lenses” are not imposed upon us from the outside, or even some “technique” of the mind to artificially interpret all things in the light of a theological concept about God and the world. No, the opposite is really the case: one can only see and understand the Trinity—can understand and experience what it means that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a ceaseless dance of reverent and playful love ever consummated in the intimacy of perfect mutual belonging—one can only understand this if one is ravished by the beauty of God and allows one’s heart to fall madly in love with him.
Yes, it is only love, a love of total virginal receptivity and unconditional surrender, that can unseal in my heart a true understanding of who God is—or better, a true knowledge of God, an intimate personal knowledge which resembles more an intimate embrace and a prolonged gaze than an idea in the mind. And in knowing God and in experiencing myself seen and known and loved by him, the light pours forth. The light pours forth, from this intimate place at the core of my being where I am in communion with the One who is ceaselessly in communion with me, to irradiate the entirety of my existence in its every detail. The whole of creation begins to shine and radiate with the light and love of the Trinity, and in doing so it reveals its true goodness and beauty, not in contradiction to this light, or yielding to it as if the light were merely something coming from the outside, but rather as the most intimate and authentic truth of every being, blossoming forth freely from within.
This is true not only in the realm of impersonal realities, in all the many forms of goodness and beauty that exist in creation, each of which speaks a unique “word” from God and impels the receptive heart back to him. It is also and most especially true in the realm of persons, created in the image and likeness of God and called into an explicit interpersonal intimacy that participates, with complete transparency, in the very beauty and communion of the Trinity’s own divine life. In the profound beauty of each unique child of God, man or woman—incarnate in a body fashioned from the dust of the earth and filled with the very breath of life—God himself lives and dwells, uniquely loving and sustaining them at every moment in his tender embrace. And we are invited to truly receive, to be touched, and, in being touched by this gift that can only come from the outside, to surrender lovingly in response…
Here, here everything converges in radiant unity and simplicity. From here everything pours out, and to here everything returns, like lines intersecting on a point, like a multitude of colors returning into the white-hot intensity of perfect unity, in which no color is dimmed or destroyed, but rather in which all colors are consummated together in the embrace of the One, the Three, who bind all together in the place in which uniqueness and universality come together in the perfect intimacy of total mutual belonging and mutual indwelling in the endless dance of Love.
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It is in the light cast from this place, and drawing all back to this place—the place of our participation in the very intimacy of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!—that the radiant clarity of vision that I have tried (however imperfectly) to communicate in the following reflections, alone, can be truly seen and understood. Each reflection is, as it were, part of this movement by which the diverse fragments of light are drawn ever closer together into this convergence point of white-hot light in the unity of the Trinity’s embrace. Or, to view the movement going in the other direction, each is a refraction of this light itself into a particular sphere of incarnate beauty within this world, fashioned by God himself to manifest his own love and intimacy in time and space.
Thus we are moving from the inner heart of the Trinity, from the white-hot intensity of the pure and everlasting intimacy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and into the rich beauty and multiplicity of this world—into the sphere of God’s interactions with humanity, with his Church, and with each and every unique and incomparable person, created in his image and likeness and called into intimacy with him. And here, too, the beautiful complementarity and rich mutual self-giving between man and woman, husband and wife, incarnates this great Mystery into a singular relationship, becoming an “image” of the “great Mystery” of which Saint Paul speaks (in Ephesians 5:21-33). And yet we do not rest here, either, in the created reality, but allow it to impel our hearts anew into the welcoming embrace of the Trinity once again. John Paul II speaks clearly and beautifully about this “incarnation” of the great Mystery in the little mystery (which is also therefore truly great):
If, as has been said, this analogy [of marriage] illuminates the mystery [of the intimacy between Christ and the Church], it itself in turn is illuminated by that mystery. The spousal relationship that unites spouses, husband and wife, must—according to the author of Ephesians—help us to understand the love that unites Christ with the Church, the reciprocal love of Christ and the Church in which the eternal divine plan of man’s salvation is realized. Nevertheless, the meaning of the analogy is not exhausted here. While the analogy used in Ephesians clarifies the mystery of the relationship between Christ and the Church, at the same time it reveals the essential truth about marriage, namely, that marriage corresponds to the vocation of Christians only when it mirrors the love that Christ, the Bridegroom, gives to the Church, his Bride, and which the Church (in likeness to the wife who is “subject,” and thus completely given) seeks to give back to Christ in return. This is the redeeming, saving love, the love with which man has been loved by God from eternity in Christ, “In him he chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate before him” (Eph 1:4). Marriage corresponds to the vocation of Christians as spouses only when precisely that love is mirrored and realized in it. … [T]he very essence of marriage contains a particle of the same mystery. … As one can see, this analogy works in two directions. While it allows us, on the one hand, to understand better the relationship of Christ with the Church, it permits us, on the other hand, to penetrate more deeply into the essence of marriage to which Christians are called. It shows in some sense the way in which this marriage, in its deepest essence, emerges from the mystery of God’s eternal love for man and humanity: from the salvific mystery that Christ’s spousal love fulfills in time for the Church. (TOB 90.2-4)
There are, therefore, three “levels” of this Mystery: 1) the innermost life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their eternal dance of love and their everlasting embrace; 2) the outpouring of this inner life of the Trinity into God’s relationship with his creation, and in particular with each unique person cradled within the living reality of the Bride and Body of Christ, the Church; 3) the incarnation of these prior two into the context of the singular love of a man and a woman in marriage—or indeed in a true living of virginal intimacy within the same spousal mystery of Christ and the Church. Here, in this third, the very relationship of God and creation (Christ and the Church), and indeed of the Father and the Son, is made present. It is made present, sanctifying human love and intimacy, and, thus, lifting it up ever more deeply into God, as both persons are drawn into the center of the white-hot light and beauty of the Trinity’s embrace, into the perfect paternal and nuptial embrace of the Father, Son, and Spirit. And here, too, the communion of human persons, of man and woman, is consummated forever in the most secure, total, and everlasting intimacy, sheltered within the undying love of the Trinity. Here everything flows back into the innermost heart of the Three who are the Origin, Ground, and Consummation of all things—who are the Love and Intimacy that is the inner essence of all being, and into whom all is drawn ever more deeply, unto the definitive renewal and restoration at the end of time.
In summary, the very reality of which I have been speaking throughout these reflections—the reality of love and intimacy—exists first in God himself, in the inner-Trinitarian embrace of the Father and the Son in their one Spirit. And it is only then expressed in the very relationship that God establishes with his creation through his creative act; and this loving act of God’s tender goodness for his beloved creature reaches its climax and its most profound expression in the gift of Redemption, which is indeed the highest gift of both paternal and spousal love, and which makes the world truly the Bride of God, in a nuptial bond that is total and everlasting. And yet in this intimate relationship between God and his creation, between Christ and the Church, there is a third dimension of God’s gift, an incarnation of this very mystery of God’s spousal relationship with his creation and with each one of his incomparable children: the rich complementarity of man and woman, in the whole of their existence from the core of their spirit to their very concrete bodiliness, in which they incarnate the mystery of the Trinity and the mystery of the union between God and humanity, and, in doing so, also find their hearts impelled together into nuptial relationship with God himself, and ultimately into the very innermost life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.